What Happens When We Communicate Through Social Networking?(Electronic vs. Face-to-Face)
Many of us wonder how we ever survived without the convenience of texting, e-mail, and Facebook.These technologies allow us to easily communicate both personally and professionally while still juggling a busy schedule. However, though it is certain that electronic communication is a significant benefit, sometimes problems can arise.
Do you think the Facebook post is prejudiced or offensive?
My town has a Facebook page for the Moms so that everyone can share information that is useful and relevant to our town. Some of the common topics include: suggestions for competent people to do work on the house; information about the schools; and interesting activities for kids etc. Last week I woke up and saw this post:
"Just wondering...does anyone know why we get the Jewish Holidays off but never All Saints Day off? It would be great since Halloween is the night before!"
In case you are not familiar with the two holidays mentioned in the post, Yom Kippur is one of the most important Jewish holidays, meant as a day to atone for one's sins and to forgive others. It is a day to reflect on one's life and decide what changes need to be made. All Saints Day is a Christian (really a Catholic) holiday honoring all the saints, both known and unknown. This post appeared on Facebook the morning after Yom Kippur.
I am an open-minded person and would have been very upset if anyone made a statement that was disrespectful or prejudiced. But I interpreted the post as a valid question, and responded that I didn't know how the decisions were made about school vacations. Apparently others interpreted it differently, and saw the statement as very offensive and prejudiced toward people of the Jewish faith. This led to a huge debate, and ultimately to completely unnecessary but extremely vicious personal attacks against the poster, and finally the removal of the original post. I have to admit I secretly enjoyed all the excitement, at least until the personal attacks began. A good academic debate really wakes me up in the morning especially now that it's so dark when I get up to take the kids to school. But this became too vicious and hurtful.
As I saw it, the problem with this exchange was that it happened on Facebook rather than in person. That mean there was no way to interpret the true intent of the author through facial expressions or tone of voice. Many people that commented (including myself) did not not know this particular Mom. If we had we might have known if she was prone to prejudiced statements, was very insensitive, or actually too innocent to ever expect anyone to interpret it that way. Moreover, if they were facing her in person, they might have been more likely to give her the benefit of the doubt. Instead, many people on the forum chose to take offense or launch into a personal attack.
Benefits of Electronic Communication
The benefits of electronic communication are numerous and more options are becoming available all the time.
- We can communicate with people all over the world and leave messages any time of the day.
- We can contact each other without feeling intrusive. If someone doesn't want to respond immediately they can wait or disregard the message completely.
- We still have the option to communicate in real time through media such as Skype.
- We can combine many types of media such as text and a video into one message.
- We can communicate with people all over the world with services such as Facebook or email, without spending a penny!
Benefits of Communicating in Person
- Facial expressions and tone of voice make it easier to interpret intent.
- Typing "LOL" just doesn't compare to having a laugh with a friend.
- Responses are immediate, rather than dealing with the delays from texts or e-mails.
- People can add meaningful non-verbal cues to their communication, such as a hand gesture, a hug or a gentle touch on the shoulder.
- People are more likely to say what comes from the heart when they spend less time analyzing their response.
I use various types of electronic communication on a regular basis and have to admit I can't remember what life was like without it. HubPages is just one of the fun ways that I enjoy interacting in addition to email and texting. Enjoy the benefits of these technologies, but don't forget to make time for valuable face-to-face contact. There will never be a substitute for comforting words followed by a big hug!